And while the tech needs to be further developed, it's not what's holding VR back as much as I think people feel it is. I have put tens of thousands of people through VR experiences and I rarely heard complaints about refresh rates or field of view. Not to say it doesn't happen, but people are much more excited about the possibilities than they are frustrated by the limitations. The average consumer is still much more excited about the potential. They key is for the content to be created with those limitations in mind. For example, I see many VR experiences where the action takes place in front of the viewer, rather than taking advantage of the 360 degree experience VR affords. So people don't understand the unique value that VR can bring to content.
Today, we're also focusing mainly on the visual elements of VR, with some 360 sound starting to come into the experiences. People like Jacki Morie are starting to explore how smell might be added to VR experiences and as tactile feedback gets better, that will increase engagement within VR experiences as well.
By next year, we should see some significant additions to the content available. Google Daydream launched this fall, bringing with it a new set of tools to create VR experiences. They're also looking at hardware like camera rigs, that will make it much easier for companies to create VR content.
Ready Player One in production for 2018 release, and that should drive a great deal of interest and hype into how VR will impact our daily lives. I would also guess that other movies will come with some great promotional efforts, helping to drive VR more into the mainstream. As with production tech in general, the cost will decrease and the quality will increase, making it much easier for people to make and share content.
On the plus side, you also have a group of Gen Z'ers coming up that played Poptropica and the online version of Beanie Baby's (I know our household spent heavily for my daughter to play this online) and who totally understand what VR can do. As Google, the NY Times, NatGeo and others continue to build content for education, we will continue to train future audiences about the power of VR. Waag Society in Amsterdam built a cool education experience a few years back that allowed students to go to specific spoke in Amsterdam and see what that spot looked like in the past (I believe the 1600's). We'll see lots more of those educational experiences in the future as well.
As for what it needs to overcome, first is the stigma that it's a gaming tool. If people are primarily hearing about game applications, they won't be looking for ways to incorporate VR into their everyday lives. Yes, the HMD'S need to get better and smaller, there is still some resistance to put it on for some segments of the population. The biggest obstacle is compelling content that takes us from gaming into education, training, virtual tourism and other areas where people see real value.
A lot of ad agency people I spoke to in the past were intimated by the process of creating a VR experience. The trick is understanding the non-linear aspects of VR. And in the advertising world, that's an enormous, cognitive leap for people used to building stories that go from a to b to c.
Yes, VR has really come a long way since I first got involved and it's really exciting to look at where it will be in the very near future.